Population, family and household projections
This page provides projections of the number, size and type of families and households for New Zealand, the Canterbury region and its ten territorial authorities.
Local authority planning and service delivery rely on information about whether the number of people and households in an area is likely to increase or decrease, and to what extent. National and subnational population projections prepared by Statistics New Zealand are a key source of information.
The projections cover a range of possible outcomes based on different combinations of fertility, mortality, migration and labour force participation assumptions.
- Current national population projections (December 2020) are from 2020(base) to 2073.
- Statistics New Zealand provides five national population projections series: 5th percentile, 25th percentile, 50th percentile (median), 75th percentile and 95th percentile.
- Current subnational population projections are from 2018(base) to 2048.
- Subnational population projections give an indication of the future population usually living in New Zealand's 16 regional council areas (regions) and 67 territorial authority areas.
- Three projections (low, medium, and high) incorporate different fertility, mortality, and migration assumptions for each geographic area, to illustrate a range of possible scenarios.
- Statistics New Zealand considers the medium projection suitable for assessing future population changes. The medium series is consistent with the median projection (50th percentile) of the National Population Projections: 2020(base) to 2073.
- In a territorial authority area that is experiencing rapid population growth, reviewing the estimated resident population, building consents and school rolls, for example, may suggest that we should use the high projection series for future planning.
- When basing policy and planning on population projections, we should always make explicit which projection series we have used.
- Urban area population projections and area unit population projections are available in NZ.Stat.
- Current national family and household projections (October 2017) are from 2013(base) to 2038.
- Family and household projections provide a summary of the projected number of families and households in New Zealand, by family type and household type, based on different combinations of assumptions about fertility, mortality, migration and living arrangement.
- A ‘family’ is defined as a couple, with or without child(ren), or one parent with child(ren), usually living together in a household. Couples include opposite-sex and same-sex couples.
- A ‘household’ is defined as one person usually living alone, or two or more people usually living together and sharing facilities (for example, eating facilities, cooking facilities, bathroom and toilet facilities, a living area) in a private dwelling. Three broad household types are projected: family households, one-person households, and other multi-person households.
- 'Households' exclude non-private dwellings, unoccupied dwellings, and dwellings that are not the usual residence of people (for example, holiday homes, second homes). So household numbers should not be confused with building activity or dwelling numbers.
- Six alternative family and household projections are produced by combining three population projections (low, medium, high) with two living arrangement type rates (LATRs): A assumes LATRs will remain constant at 2013 levels; B assumes LATRs will change linearly between 2013 and 2038.
- Household projections are particularly relevant for local authority planning. For most purposes, use the Medium B projection to assess future family and household changes.
- Current subnational family and household projections (December 2017) are from 2013(base) to 2038.
- Subnational family and household projections indicate possible future changes in the number and composition of families and households in New Zealand’s 16 regional council areas and 73 territorial authority areas (boundaries at 1 January 2017).
- Three alternative series (low, medium and high) have been produced for each area, using different combinations of assumptions about fertility, mortality, migration and living arrangement type.
- Statistics New Zealand considers the Medium projection series the most suitable for assessing future family and household changes.
- New Zealand’s population could hit 6 million by 2050 and could reach this milestone sooner (depending on migration and birth rates). By 2030, the population is likely to be between 5.2 and 5.9 million.
- annual population growth has a 50 percent probability of being between 0.5 and 0.9 percent in 2021 and between 0.5 and 1.2 percent in 2022. In the year ended June 2020, the national average growth rates was 2.1% (New Zealand's population grew by an average of 1.4% a year between 1948 and 2016).
- population growth will slow as New Zealand’s population ages and the rate of natural increase declines.
- by 2030 the population is expected to be between 5.2 and 5.9 million.
- by 2073, the projections indicate a population of between 5.3 and 8.5 million.
- there will be significant changes in the age structure of the population due to lower birth rates and people living longer.
- although the number of children may increase, it will not increase as fast as the older segment of the population – so the proportion of the population under 15 years is likely to decrease. By 2073, the population under 15 years will likely make up between 9 and 18% of the population. In 2020, about 19% of the population are under 15 years.
- half the population could be older than 46 years by 2068, compared with a median age of 37.4 years in 2020 (and 25.6 years in 1970).
- the 15–64 years age group, (around 65% of the population in 2020) that mostly make-up the working-age population, will likely decrease to between 55 and 61% of the population by 2073.
- the population aged 65+ (16% of total population in 2020) will increase to around 23% in 2050 and 34% in 2073. In 2020 13% of the population were in this age group, and in 1950, 9% were in this age group.
- the population aged 85+ is projected to triple in the next 30 years (88,000 in 2020) to between 280,000 and 340,000 in the 2050s and 350,000 and 510,000 in the early 2070s.
- the age of the oldest 10% of the population is projected to rise significantly, from over 70.8 years in 2020 to 75.1–78.1 years in 2040, 77.3–81.2 years in 2060 and 79.1–83.3 years in 2073.
- Worksheet 1 provides national population projections, 2020(base) to 2073.
- Worksheets 2–3 provide data and charts on the projected age structure of New Zealand's total population.
- Worksheets 4–5 provide data and charts on projected components of population change in New Zealand's total population: births, deaths, net migration, total fertility rate, and male and female period life expectancy at birth.
- The population growth rate will slow in all regions, cities, districts and Auckland local board areas between 2018 and 2048.
- All areas will be home to more people aged 65+ in 2048.
- Deaths will increase relative to births in all areas, as the population ages.
The medium projection indicates that:
- More than half of New Zealand’s population growth between 2018 and 2048 will be in Auckland.
By 2048, the North Island will be home to 78% of New Zealand’s population, compared to 77% in 2013.
- The population of the South Island will increase by an average of 0.6 percent a year, from 1.15 million in 2018 to 1.38 million in 2048, and about half of this growth will occur in the first 10 years of the 30-year period.
- The faster projected growth of the North Island mainly reflects its higher rate of natural increase, due to a higher birth rate and lower death rate than the South Island – the North Island has a slightly younger age structure, with a higher proportion of the population at ages under 45 years.
- The West Coast will have fewer people in 2048 than in 2018, and the growth rate in the other 15 regions is expected to slow as the population ages and deaths increase relative to births.
- Worksheets 1–2 provide information on population projections for regional council areas, 2018–48.
- On the medium projection series, the population of the Canterbury region is projected to grow by, on average, 0.8% a year between 2018 and 2048, the same rate of growth as New Zealand's total population.
- On the medium projection, however, only three territorial authorities within the region will exceed the national growth rate: Selwyn district (1.7%), Waimakariri district (1.0%) and Mackenzie District (0.9%).
- In the remaining seven territorial authority areas, average annual population growth rates are projected to be between 0.1% (Waimate district) and 0.6% (Ashburton district and Christchurch City).
- On the medium projection, Canterbury’s population will increase from 622, 800 to 780,500 between 2018 and 2048, with nearly half of that growth occurring between 2018 and 2028.
- Canterbury’s growth contributes 12% of the national growth rate.
- Worksheets 1–2 provide data and charts on population projections for regional council areas, including the Canterbury region.
- Worksheets 5–6 provide data and charts on population projections for Canterbury territorial authority areas.
- 2018(base) area unit population projections are available on NZ.Stat for all Canterbury territorial authority areas.
In planning for future population growth, we need to know the projected age structure of an area. Will growth be predominantly among families with young children, families with older children, adults without children, or older people?
- In the five years ended December 2014, three of New Zealand's 67 territorial authority areas experienced more deaths than births: Thames-Coromandel, Kapiti Coast and Waitaki districts. As New Zealand's population continues to age, other areas will begin to consistently experience a natural decrease.
- For areas that have traditionally relied on natural increase for population growth, a natural decrease will mean a shrinking population unless offset by net migration gains. However, a net migration inflow would be a reversal of historical migration patterns for many areas.
- Within Canterbury, natural decrease (more deaths than births) is projected to occur in Timaru district by 2023, in Waimate and Waitaki districts by 2028, and in Kaikōura, and Waimakariri districts by 2038. This means that five of 10 territorial authority areas in Canterbury are projected to have natural decrease by 2038.
- Natural decrease is likely to be offset, however, by net migration (more arrivals than departures) in all Canterbury districts.
Worksheets 3–4 provide data and charts on components of population change for regional council areas, including the Canterbury region.
Worksheets 7 and 9 provide data and charts on components of population change for territorial authority areas in Canterbury.
On medium projections, the median age of New Zealand’s population will increase from 37years in 2018 to 44 years in 2048.
The oldest median ages are generally in areas experiencing low fertility and/or a net outflow of young adults (aged 15-29 years) and a net inflow of people aged 35 to 74 years.
The youngest median ages are generally in areas experiencing high fertility and/or a net inflow of young adults (such as cities with major tertiary education facilities).
In Canterbury, the median age is projected to increase from 38 years in 2018 to 45 years in 2048.
Seven out of ten territorial authorities in Canterbury are projected to have median ages higher than the overall median age for Canterbury by 2048. The three territorial authorities with a projected median age younger than the median age for the region as a whole are Christchurch City and the Selwyn and Ashburton districts. Median ages are projected to range between 43 years (in Ashburton district and Christchurch City and 51 years (in Hurunui district).
Under all projection series, all 67 territorial authority areas in New Zealand are projected to have a higher proportion of older people (aged 65 years and over) in 2048 compared with 2018.
For New Zealand overall, 23% of the population is projected to be aged 65 years and over in 2048, up from 15% in 2018.
In Canterbury, on the medium projection series, 24% of the population will be aged 65 or over by 2048, up from 16% in 2018.
Ashburton districts will have the smallest percentage (23%) by 2048 of people aged 65+ in Canterbury than in the region as a whole. The highest percentage of over 65s will be in Kaikōura district (34%).
Forty-seven of 67 territorial authority areas are projected to have a smaller number of children (aged 0-14 years) in 2048 than in 2018 (medium projection). Fewer births will be the main reason for the decreasing number of children, caused by the decline in fertility rates and, in nearly all of these areas, fewer women in the childbearing ages.
However, under all projection series, all territorial authority areas are projected to have a lower proportion of children in 2048 compared with 2018. For New Zealand overall, the proportion of children will decline from 19% in 2018 to 15% in 2048.
In Canterbury, 14% of the population is projected to be aged under 15 years in 2048, down from 18% in 2018. Within the region, Ashburton and Selwyn districts are projected to have the highest proportion (16.7% and 16.4%) in 2048 (medium projection). The lowest proportions will be in Christchurch City (13.2%) and Mackenzie district (12.8%).
Worksheets 3–4 provide data and charts on components of population change for regional council areas, including the Canterbury region.
Worksheets 7–9 provide data and charts on age structure and components of population change for territorial authority areas in Canterbury.
- The number of households in New Zealand will increase by an average of 1.2% a year, from an estimated 1.65 million households to 2.2 million – an increase of 596,000.
- The number of families will increase by an average of 1.2% a year, from 1.25 million to 1.68 million – an increase of 433,000.
- The number of families and households will grow faster than the population, which is projected to grow by an average of 1.1% per year.
- The average size of households will decrease from 2.64 people to 2.51 people in 2038 (cf. 3.70 people in 1951).
- Couple-without-children households will increase by an average of 1.6% a year and will remain the most common family type, accounting for 44% of families and 54% of growth in the number of families.
- Two-parent families will increase by an average of 1.0% a year, from 503,600 to 644,300, and account for 38% of families and 31% of growth in the number of families.
- one-parent families will increase by an average of 0.8% a year, from 230,300 to 279,600, and account for 17% of families and 11% of growth in the number of families.
- One person households will increase by an average of 1.7% a year (the fastest growing household type), from 393,000 to 599,000 – by 2038, 10% of New Zealanders will be living alone, of whom 56% will be aged 65 years and over.
- More one-person households in all regions, and more couple-without-children families in most regions.
- The average household size will decline for all 16 regional council areas and most territorial authorities.
- More households in all regions.
- Fewer families in 13 TAs and fewer households in 7 TAs.
- The Auckland region will account for 49% of national growth in the number of households – by 2038, 35% of all households in New Zealand will be in the Auckland region, up from 30% in 2013.
- Worksheet 1 provides data on projected households in regional council areas.
- Worksheet 3 provides data on projected families and households by type in regional council areas.
- The number of households in Canterbury will grow from 218,200 in 2013 to 298,500 in 2038, an average increase of 1.3% a year.
- Within Canterbury, two districts are projected to experience average annual growth in households greater than the national average: Selwyn (3.0%) and Waimakariri (1.9%).
- The greatest numerical growth in households 2013–38 will be in Christchurch (42, 600), Selwyn (17, 500) and Waimakariri (11,700).
- The average household size will decrease in all territorial authorities, from an average of 2.5 across the region in 2013 to a projected average of 2.4 in 2038.
- Across the region, the number of one-person households will increase by 27,200 from 53,700 to 81,900.
- Despite having the lowest share (18%) of one-person households in New Zealand in 2038, the number of one-person households in Selwyn will more than double over the 25-year period.
- Worksheet 2 provides data on projected households in Canterbury.
- Worksheet 4 provides data on projected families and households by type in regional council areas.
- Worksheet 5 provides charts of projected household types by Canterbury territorial authority area, on the medium projection.
- Worksheet 6 provides charts of projected family types by Canterbury territorial authority area, on the medium projection.